Dadar’s famous Ambedkar Bhavan was demolished overnight on Friday, sparking outrage among the leader’s followers.
The Bhoiwada police registered a first-information report against members of the People’s Improvement Trust after Dr Ambedkar’s grandson, Anandraj Ambedkar, lodged a complaint.
By Saturday evening, a crowd had gathered outside the demolished building and blocked the main road, halting traffic from Hindmata Chowk towards Dadar station.
“We did not provide any protection at the time of demolition. We were not even made aware of it,” said N Ambika, deputy commissioner of police, zone IV. The police, however, refused to specify the charges under which the trustees were booked.
The building, situated a stone’s throw from Dadar railway station, was initially used by Dr Ambedkar as library and a press to print and disseminate literature opposing the caste system. Later, it was also used as a meeting hall, hosting public and private events by Ambedkar followers.
Some supporters who gathered outside the building were students from nearby colleges.
“We condemn this move by the trustees. We refuse to believe that the police had no idea about the demolition. We take this as a direct attack on Dr Ambedkar and his beliefs and request the government to take a stand. The trustees have ruined a place of historical importance,” said one of the students, who did not wish to be named.
In a statement to the media late on Saturday evening, the BMC clarified that it had played no role in the demolition and that the building was situated on private property.
“The People Improvement Trust requested the BMC to redevelop their property, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Bhavan. The building proposal department processed their application and issued an ‘intimation of disapproval’ according to BMC norms. The trust is in the process of redeveloping the structure and its demolition is in progress. However, the BMC did not carry out the demolition,” the statement read.